Recent actions by the Starkville School Board drew the criticism of two city aldermen Tuesday night.
Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas and Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins both took advantage of the board comments portion of the Starkville Board of Aldermen meeting to read prepared statements chastising the school board for an apparent lack of transparency with regard to recent district business.
The Starkville School Board recently declined explanation regarding former Superintendent Judy Couey”s administrative leave and subsequent resignation, all of which was discussed during executive session meetings. Members of the school board declined comment on the meetings, instead directing inquiries to the official minutes.
Perkins began his comments by stating “constituents have expressed grave concerns to me about present matters involving the Starkville School Board and the Starkville School District.”
He said neither he nor the public felt the board disclosed all the details it was legally allowed to release following the closed meetings.
“Though the concern of the school board toward the sensitivity of the personnel matter is legitimate, it was not good government for the chairman to cite approval of the minutes as the reason not to announce the actions taken at the meeting, even if the totality of the reasons were not addressed explicitly,” he stated.
Dumas, whose wife works for the school district and whose children attend city schools, also expressed his understanding that not all details could be divulged, but condemned the school board”s “misuse of power to further distance the issues at hand from a concerned citizenry, much less when these issues relate to the safety and education of my children.”
Perkins and Dumas both expressed concern over how the school board”s actions would reflect on the city and the Board of Aldermen, which appoints four of the five school board members.
During citizen comments, insurance agent Frank Chiles expressed his displeasure with the school board, calling its actions a “black eye on our schools.”
“It”s going to be hard to get another superintendent to come in,” he said. “Right now, I just don”t have the trust in the school board members I once had after seeing the way they handled this thing.”
In other business the board:
n Established a committee consisting of the Mayor and entire Board of Aldermen, with Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spurill and City Clerk Markeeta Outlaw serving as non-voting ex officio members, to establish a redistricting plan for the city. The city has until qualifying begins for 2013 municipal elections to submit a plan to the Department of Justice.
n Appointed Dr. Dennis Nordin to fulfill the resigning William Poe”s term on the Board of Adjustments and Appeals and John Cartwright as GIS Specialist on the Starkville Tree Advisory Board.
n Received a recommendation from members of the Municipal Complex Committee that a new police station be constructed at the northwest corner of the intersection of Jackson Street and Highway 182 and that City Hall be renovated following the departure of the police department to allow more room for city departments and municipal court.
In explaining the committee”s recommendation, Dr. Roy Ruby suggested the police department be built with parking lots to the east and west of the building, with the western parking lot designated for police vehicles with access to Jackson Street and Highway 182 while the eastern public parking lot opens only to Jackson Street.
A rendering of the police building suggested an L-shaped building with a courtyard area which could be used to construct a future addition, if necessary.
Regarding parking at city hall, the committee recommended an addition to the building in the current police vehicle parking lot directly to the west along with the construction of a public parking lot one block to the west on Lampkin Street behind Sullivan”s Office Supply and west of the Community Market area.
n Received a presentation from three members of the Mayor”s Youth Council regarding a $3,000 grant awarded to the Youth Council by the Appalachian Regional Commission and requesting funds for the Summer Youth Employment Program.
n Received a presentation from Eagle Scout Silas Knox regarding his intention to lead a fundraising project to place blue reflective markers in the road near fire hydrants to assist the fire department.
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.
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